That French wanted to immortalize all the sparrows in the New World

Possible consequences of excessive exposure to cartoons programmed by It’s a cartoonWe have long felt that birds always come out of it – a priority, while you are reading these lines, the beeping of this great Rodrana has not yet been caught by Coyote.

In reality, the sparrow shown by Dodo’s irreversible fate or the anxious fall of sparrows in Ile-de-France is not eternal. And this, Jean-Jacques Audubon understood before many people. This French-born naturalist, ornithologist and painter traveled to 19th century America in search of birds for immortality. The burden of great literary work Baptism Birds of America Celebrate the birds of the new world.

Birds of America, Is also the title of a documentary directed by Jacques Lœuille (in theaters from May 21) that looks back at Audubon’s permeation and confronts them with the current landscape of the United States. Today, the journey of the naturalist will no longer be interrupted by trappers’ counters and egret nests but by gas pipelines, oil pipelines and other raw material extraction fields that have slowly driven away all hope of preserving animals, the local population and the Mississippi coast. , Eaten away by decay.

Observing the birds that use the “father of the river” as a migratory corridor, did Auduban feel the need to realize what could be lost? It is Lœuille’s principle that establishes the naturalist as a pioneer of ecology. However, his journey reveals some gray areas.

Born in 1785, Audubon crossed the Atlantic at the age of 18 – on a voyage to escape the Napoleonic Wars and to join the army, which severely shortened the life of the recruits. He was parachuted into a family plantation in Louisiana, an area that France sold to a young American nation for just 15 million. New Orleans eventually allowed states along the Mississippi to have a maritime and commercial outlet. Audubon did not take advantage of this. Unfit for business, he lost his land and plunged into poverty if his talent as a draftsman did not allow him to earn a living.

From portraits to orders, naturalists move on to birds. It is said that he even took part in the first ringing operation, which made it possible for pedestrians to return to the same place every year. Perhaps inspired by explorers Lewis and Clark, who recently sailed from Missouri to its source, or by Chateaubriand’s America tour, Audubon is creating a parallel project in parallel: landing in Mississippi with his rifle and his brush. Different types of Piafs of the new continent in the Arctic lands of Labrador via the Gulf of Mexico.

“I dug the jungle, I got lost in their old solitude. On the shores of our vast lake I saw them constantly wandering in their secret shelter. This is how the whole year passed. A

Since 1810, he has led a nomadic life as an explorer, hunter, nature observer and painter. “I’ve been on a long and dangerous journey alone,” he wrote. “I dug the jungle, I got lost in their old solitude. On the shores of our vast lake I saw them constantly wandering in their secret shelter. This is how the whole year passed. হ A hagiographic article published by Exceed While praising his patience in 1934, he voluntarily compared him to Fabre or Buffon: “This bird, for example, he followed for ten years, to find a thousand leagues from where he first saw it. He was surprised by the exhaustion and deprivation of the day, the third one, which he could only swim across a half-ice river with a rifle strapped to his head.

Audubon’s portrait depicts him as “with big blue eyes, curly hair, an aquiline nose, a broad forehead and a face now shaped in English accent”, near Davy Crockett or Hugh Glass, an unfortunate protagonist of the novel. Revenant Michael Punk more than a follower of the natural sciences. In his memoirs, the naturalist struggles with the apocryphal anecdote to illustrate his indomitable will; Due to the loss of his hundreds of birds (they smoked after the fire or swallowed rats after being deposited in a trunk): “A poisonous flame pierced my brain like an arrow of fire and I had a fever for several weeks. Moral strength awoke. I picked up my rifle, my play bag, my album, and my pencils and sank deep into my forest again. It took me three years to repair the damage. “

In 1825, he was greeted triumphantly in London. His most famous work, The Man of the Woods, was able to raise funds for publication with the help of local engravers; Birds of America, Birds of America – 435 color plates, life-size and hand-painted, published in four volumes between 1831 and 1839. In this atlas, 1,065 bird statues, from hummingbirds to eagles, are presented on staging that are separated by this code. Time hits the book. “This desire for perfection was a major factor in Audubon’s success; It will be the same for all those who abandon this need of our time, to accelerate the works of science, art, literature, to express in a state of outline, the painful work of correction, correction, change; They know in that look that they must receive their reward. ” Exceed.

Jacques Lœuille considers Audubon a kind of whistleblower. In his documentary, the director naturalist lists bird species that have become extinct since the drawing; The Carolina parakeet – which did not make much effort and inevitably landed on the same branch despite threats from predators – was an ivory-tipped woodpecker or traveling dove, whose last specimen, Martha, died of grief in a zoo cage. During migration, Audubon speaks of giant sheep that can obscure the sun’s rays.

This “turbulent night” is no more, and its disappearance echoes the bison, the Amerindians, and soon the earth, which is about to devour Mississippi. Lœuille speaks of a curse; Fields and trees are replaced by factories. The soil, water and air were poisoned. Nothing leads anymore. ” Birds of America A film about the remnants: it tells the story of the last birds of an endangered species, when they resonate with the political and cultural fabric of the United States, ”the press kit quoted the filmmaker as saying.

However, its protagonist may not be the green model that is depicted. Historian Sozig Villarbu mentions in a post dedicated to comics On the wings of the earth, Aduban, The naturalist “deeply embedded in the collective dynamics of the young American Republic who are fighting the mutations of capitalism, the conquest of the West and the Jacksonian democracy is understood as a society of free whites”. The connection with the nature of the work of Audubon, the master of the slave period, is part of the American consciousness of that time; The settlers are convinced that the lands acquired by divine right are filled with infinite wealth.

“They shoot at the smallest animals that have entered their field of fire (…). A

A detail, humbly silenced by the documentary but mentioned by my colleague Mary Clock Release, Comes to combine this idea: Audubon draws after sealing birds, recreates postures with wires in the manner of a taxidermist, and does not particularly care about the perenniality of the species. Historian Giles Harvard’s excellent work, Ghost America, French-speaking explorer of the New World, One of the last expeditions of naturalists, does not work for him. In April 1843, he boarded the Omega, a steamer chartered by a fur company. Despite his advanced age, 58, and his fragile health, Audubon wanted to continue his research with the aim of publishing a new book, this time devoted to quadrupeds. Beyond the beast, he will have the ambition to “write stories of traps and predators that come with him, when he is sure he can rely on their authenticity.”

According to Harvard, the expedition was “like a scientific expedition on an American safari” where Bison was shot and left to decompose. “Omega, from a kind of artillery ship, they shoot at the smallest creatures that have entered their range, for food and the possibility of retrieving specimens, of course, but is driven by a surge of shooting, sport and adventure. They have a sense of absolute abundance of fauna and are rarely concerned about the risk of species extinction. A

This disagreement is found in the tradition left by Audubon. Present in American popular culture and urban spaces, Jack Lewill highlights the growing number of streets, squares, zoos, aquariums, and universities that carry his name as it descends south from Mississippi and takes a bad turn. “In New Orleans, French painter-adventurers are everywhere. However, the proliferation of ecological father statues is not enough to obscure the reality of Louisiana’s large city where most American hydrocarbons take place: here, fuel oils reign supreme, The biggest polluter on the planet.

This Green wash Is it already at the heart of Audubon’s work? Thanks to his travels, did not the naturalist encourage his contemporaries to believe in an immortal nature? Likes to focus on the legacy of the documentary Birds of America The book highlights the positive effects that the book had on Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States from 1901 to 1909.

Roosevelt was concerned about the depletion of natural resources during his mandate and decided to sanctify parts of the land for the conservation of fauna and flora – he created 150 national forests, five national parks and 51 ornithological reserves, as noted by historian Valerie Chansigwood. Let us be reminded that public policy will be a little more effective in counteracting the harmful effects of human activities on nature, despite the good will of a person who loves or dislikes birds and ecology.

Birds of America Jacques Lœuille, 84 minutes, in theaters from May 25.

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